book review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater
★★★★☆
Scholastic, 2012

 

I’m going to do something a bit odd here and base my rating for this book more on what I think it has the potential to become than how much I actually enjoyed it. Because this feels more like a 400 page prologue than it does an actual book. But I’m willing to overlook the spectacularly poor pacing and haphazard plotting if the rest of the series actually builds on the foundation Stiefvater set up here, and she definitely hooked me enough that I want to keep going with it.

I’m still not totally sure what to make of this premise (apparently this series is about a group of students trying to find a dead Welsh king, WHO KNEW, not me), and I think the execution was a bit of a mess. The first 200 pages are total filler; the villain’s backstory is awkwardly shoehorned in without much exploration; perspective shifts aren’t employed effectively (sometimes I couldn’t tell whose head we were in until the end of a chapter); information that could have been withheld in order to build tension is readily offered up to the reader at all times; and the ending just kind of… plateaus without much of a climax. Stiefvater can clearly write (though I actually preferred her prose in The Scorpio Races) but I don’t think The Raven Boys is a well-constructed book at all.

But the characters I think are intriguing. By ‘intriguing’ I mean ‘have the potential to become interesting.’ Because right now a lot of them still feel like tropes – you’ve got the quirky loner girl, the leader, the asshole, the one with money problems, and… that’s just about it – but judging from others’ assessment of the series, it does seem like some character development is on the horizon. But what’s compelling me more than the characters themselves are the dynamics between them. So even though I wasn’t totally wowed by this book, it has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes me want to keep going with it… hopefully the second book picks up.

18 thoughts on “book review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. I love this review – because it’s of my favorite book and because it’s a oddly negative 4 star review 😂 The series definitely builds on the characters and their dynamic – it mostly revolves around that and that is its selling point, so I hope you love the rest of it. The Dream Thieves (that’s the second book) is my favorite in the series, so I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • THIS REVIEW IS HONESTLY SO BAD it’s basically ‘I don’t think this is an amazing book but I liked it for some reason??’ and I’m finding it hard to extrapolate too much on that without reading the rest of the series… but my interest is certainly piqued and I’m very excited to read the second one!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I so agree with your assessment of this book. I also really liked it, but was so unsure why and also what the book is even about. I read it twice before continuing on with the series. But, I finished the series which in itself is a sign how seriously I adored this because I am super bad at actually doing that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you ended up loving the rest of the series because that is promising! It is such a strange one. This is probably the most negative 4 star review I have ever written, and I’m still not sure what I really liked about it?? But I did like something, because I’m hooked and I want to keep going with it, inexplicably.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really liked the series as a whole. Plus, I am super fond of all the Raven Boys (except for one and I am not spoiling which one but I am sure you’ll guess soon enough). I do like weirdly non-defined magic in my books though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Right now I’d guess Ronan, but Steph refused to sort Ronan and Adam into Hogwarts houses for me because apparently they both get a lot of character development that verges into spoiler territory to talk about? So I’ll report back.

        As you know I really struggle with most magical realism, but I like the way it’s done in this book, where it may not be totally defined but at least it’s addressed by the characters as being out of the ordinary. I think it bothers me more when magic is integrated into the fabric of the story’s universe to lend the atmosphere a certain Vibe, but it serves no narrative purpose.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That was a very good call by Steph.

        I mean, I really like magic in all my fiction, but Stiefvater does something extra cool here, I think. I just really appreciate the whole series a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. lmao I love that this is a 4-star review that’s almost entirely negative. Anyway I agree with your assessment, especially the bit about how this feels like an extended prologue. Let me know if you decide to pick up second book soon; I’ll read it with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t even know what’s going on in this review dsjklfjdslk I honestly did sit down to write a 4 star review and then I found myself complaining a lot and then just… posted it…. incredible. I’ve got like five million other things I need to finish first but maybe we can pick up the second one about a month from now??

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this review, cause this is exactly how I felt about the book when I first read it. I didn’t think it was amazing, but something about the writing or the atmosphere or the characters or a combination of those things worked for me in a weird way. I wasn’t wowed ’till book 3 though! But wow, I love book 3. I kind of want to reread the series to see if my perspective has changed at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A couple of other people have said something similar, so I’m really glad I’m not alone! I honestly did like this book, but it’s hard to put my finger on why when so much of it just didn’t work. I’ll definitely keep going with the series though. I hope at least one of them wows me!

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  5. I did the same as Hannah, I had to read this twice before moving on. And I still am not really sure what that ending was. The first time I read it was several years ago and I couldn’t get into the second one after that. I reread it again uhhh about a year ago? And have slowly been progressing with the series. It’s funny because I rip through the books, but then I wait months before moving to the next one. I only have the 4th left now.

    I definitely have similar thoughts in that I really like these books (I feel that I’ve enjoyed each one progressively more), but have no idea WHY. I think I just really like the characters and find the writing fun;

    Liked by 1 person

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